Soviet Estonia in the Era of the Cold War
← 6 | 7 →Tõnu Tannberg
Upon emerging victoriously from World War II in 1945, the Soviet Union quickly established itself in Eastern Europe and subjected the regimes in that region to its almost complete control. Wartime cooperation with the Western countries disintegrated, and in its place, a new confrontation between the world’s superpowers developed—the Cold War. The Western powers were unable to contain Moscow’s program for expansion, and thus this confrontation persisted until the end of the 1980s, significantly affecting worldwide developments. The Soviet Union and its satellites, along with the Baltic countries that were once again occupied in 1944, were sealed off behind the “Iron Curtain.”
Cut off from the Western world, Estonia was subjected to the extensive Sovietization of community life and the muzzling of intellectual and spiritual life, the suppression of resistance, the implementation of repressions and the introduction of a Soviet-style command economy in the postwar years. The “thaw” following the death of Stalin brought a partial easing of the regime (a modification of the policy of violence and other such measures), economic progress, more active relations with the Western world, an increase in the standard of living, and improvement in people’s living conditions. Yet this did not mean that the Soviet Union was prepared to relax control over its spheres of influence in Eastern Europe, as the suppression of the Hungarian Uprising (1956) and the Prague Spring (1968) corroborated.
In the mid-1950s, it was understood in Estonia as...
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